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November they swarm on trees covered with this plant; and when they disappear, probably retire under the shelter of its leaves, concealing themselves between its fibres and the trees which it entwines.*. -WHITE.
This I have often observed, having seen bees and other winged insects swarming about the flowers of the ivy very late in the autumn.-MARKWICK.
Spiders, woodlice, lepismæ in cupboards and among sugar, some empedes, gnats, flies of several species, some phalana in hedges, earth-worms, etc., are stirring at all times when winters are mild ; and are of great service to those softbilled birds that never leave us.
On every sunny day the winter through, clouds of insects usually called gnats (I suppose tipulæ and empedes) appear sporting and dancing over the tops of the evergreen trees in the shrubbery, and striking about as if the business of generation was still going on. Hence it appears that these diptera (which by their sizes appear to be of different species) are not subject to a torpid state in the winter, as most winged insects are. At night, and in frosty weather, and when it rains and blows, they seem to retire into those trees. They often are out in a fog.—WHITE.
This I have also seen, and have frequently observed swarms of little winged insects playing up and down in the air in the middle of winter, even when the ground has been covered with snow.---MARKWICK.
* The ivy is haunted at night by swarms of moths and other insects. I have seen an ivy bush, on a warm summer night, literally moving with the number of moths which were feeding on it. The eyes of the larger ones glowed like sparks of fire.
HUMMING IN THE AIR. There is a natural occurrence to be met with upon the highest part of our down in hot summer days, which always amuses me much, without giving me any satisfaction with respect to the cause of it; and that is, a loud audible humming of bees in the air, though not one insect is to be
The sound is to be heard distinctly the whole common through, from the Money-dells to Mr. White's avenue gate. Any person would suppose that a large swarm of bees was in motion, and playing about over his head. This noise was heard last week, on June 28th.
“ Resounds the living surface of the ground,
Nor undelightful is the ceaseless hum
Upward and downward, thwarting and convolv'd,
The quivering nations sport.”—Thomson's Seasons. -WHITE.
CHAFFERS. Cockchaffers seldom abound oftener than once in three or four years; when they swarm, they deface the trees and hedges. Whole woods of oaks are stripped bare by them.
Chaffers are eaten by the turkey, the rook, and the house-sparrow.
The scarabæus solstitialis first appears about June 26th : they are very punctual in their coming out every year, They are a small species, about half the size of the Maychaffer, and are known in some parts by the name of the fern-chaffer.— WHITE.
A singular circumstance relative to the cockchaffer, or, as it is called here, the May-bug, scarabeus melontha, happened this year (1800). My gardener, in digging some ground, found, about six inches under the surface, two of these insects alive and perfectly formed, so early as the 24th March. When he brought them to me they appeared to be as perfect and as much alive as in the midst of summer, crawling about as briskly as ever; yet I saw no more of this insect till the 22nd May, when it began to make its appearance. How comes it, that though it was perfectly formed so early as the 24th March, it did not show itself above ground till nearly two months afterwards & MARKWICK.
Those maggots that make worm-holes in tables, chairs, bed-posts, etc., and destroy wooden furniture, especially where there is any sap, are the larvæ of the ptinus pectinicornis. This insect, it is probable, deposits its eggs on the surface, and the worms eat their way
in. In their holes they turn into their pupæ state, and so come forth winged in July, eating their way through the valances or curtains of a bed, or any other furniture that happens to obstruct their passage.
They seem to be most inclined to breed in beech : hence beech will not make lasting utensils, or furniture. If their eggs are deposited on the surface, frequent rubbing will preserve wooden furniture.—WHITE.
A neighbour complained that her house was overrun with a kind of black beetle, or, as she expressed herself, with a kind of black-bob, which swarmed in her kitchen when they got up in a morning before daybreak.
Soon after this account I observed an unusual insect in one of my dark chimney closets, and find since, that in the night they swarm also in my kitchen. On examination I soon ascertained the species to be the blatta orientalis of Linnæus, and the blatta molendinaria of Mouffet. The male is winged; the female is not, but shows somewhat like the rudiments of wings, as if in the pupa
state. These insects belonged originally to the warmer parts of America, and were conveyed from thence by shipping to the East Indies; and by means of commerce begin to prevail in the more northern parts of Europe, as Russia, Sweden, etc. How long they have abounded in England I cannot
say, but have never observed them in my house till lately.
They love warmth, and haunt chimney closets and the backs of ovens. Poda
that these and house crickets will not associate together; but he is mistaken in that assertion, as Linnæus suspected he was. They are altogether night insects, lucifuga, never coming forth till the rooms are dark and still, and escaping away nimbly at the approach of a candle. Their antennæ are remarkably long, slender, and flexile.
October 1790. After the servants are gone to bed, the kitchen hearth swarms with young crickets, and young blatto molendinaria of all sizes, from the most minute growth to their full proportions. They seem to live in a friendly manner together, and not to prey the one on the other.
August 1792. After the destruction of many thousands of blattoe molendinarice, we find that at intervals a fresh detachment of old ones arrives, and particularly during this hot season ; for the windows being left open in the evenngs, the males come flying in at the casements from the neighbouring houses, which swarm with them. How the females, that seem to have no perfect wings that they can use, can contrive to get from house to house, does not so readily appear. These, like many insects, when they find their present abodes overstocked, have powers of migrating to fresh quarters. Since the blatto have been so much kept under, the crickets have greatly increased in number. – WHITE.
GRYLLUS DOMESTICUS.-HOUSE CRICKET. November. After the servants are gone to bed,
the kitchen hearth swarms with minute crickets not so large as fleas, which must have been lately hatched. So that these domestic insects, cherished by the influence of a constant large fire, regard not the season of the year, but produce their
young at a time when their congeners are either dead,
up for the winter, to pass away the uncomfortable months in the profoundest slumbers, and a state of torpidity.
When house-crickets are out, and running about in a room in the night, if surprised by a candle, they give two or three shrill notes, as it were for a signal to their fellows, that they may escape to their crannies and lurking holes, to avoid danger.-WHITE.
August 12th, 1775. Cimices lineares are now in high 'copulation on ponds and pools. The females, who vastly exceed the males in bulk, dart and shoot along on the surface of the water with the males on their backs. When a female chooses to be disengaged, she rears, and jumps, and plunges, like an unruly colt; the lover thus dismounted soon finds a new mate. The females, as fast as their